Marketing Your Home-Based Business: Website

Figuring out a marketing plan for your home-based business can be difficult. Over the 10 Tuesdays, I will tackle one marketing tool for promoting at-home businesses.

The first marketing tool is developing a website for your business. No matter what product or service you are selling or making, you need a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be accessible. Having a site hidden away under an obscure name will not help promote your business.

Buy as close a domain name as possible to your business name. If you conduct business under your name, use that. If it’s a combination of your name and a business name, buy that. But make the domain name as simple as possible in order to capitalize on search engines searches. and Network Solutions are popular website that register domain names.

There are many sites that allow you to build your website at reasonable costs. If your budget allows, hire a professional to design your site.

On your website, clearly state who you are in terms of your business. What do you sell? Where can visitors find your products or services? How can they contact you? Ensure that information is easily accessible on your website.

Get your website URL out there. Use it in the signature of your email and put it on your business cards. Make sure every purchase has something with your website URL on it, like a receipt.

Having a website can be an easy way to promote your business.

Until next time,


Work-From-Home Job Spotlight: Baby Blanket Knitter

Each Thursday, I highlight a work-from-home job or business.

Position: Baby blanket knitter or quilter

Education: No formal education required.

Skills: The ability to knit and/or sew.

Job outlook: Depends on how much time you can dedicate to your craft.

Possible employers: Places that you can sell your finished product includes craft and fabric stores, baby gear stores, baby clothing stores, arts and craft festivals, online craft stores like and Craig’s List, and friends and family. I knit baby blankets that I’ve sold to family members for gifts and at craft festivals.

Preparation: You will need to become skilled at knitting, quilting or sewing. You must be able to make a quality product or no one will want to buy it. Start by selecting patterns and trying a few different styles out. Record how long it takes for you to complete a blanket to work your time into the blanket’s cost. Look at similar blankets in stores and online to gauge pricing options.

Get your foot in the door: Visit independent baby gear stores and ask if you can leave a couple of blankets on consignment for a few weeks. Post your blankets on Craig’s List. Put up flyers at your place of work or your husband’s office, if appropriate, advertising your business.

Until next time,


Telecommuting Jobs

Ever wonder what the top telecommuting jobs are? has compiled a list of the top five telecommuting jobs. (Note: This appears to be a legitimate website, but it does require a monthly or yearly fee to access its job listings.)

Educational. “Education jobs that are offered remotely include enrollment specialists who recruit new students, advisors who provide guidance to students, and adjunct instructors who manage and teach virtual classes.” You will likely need certification and a teaching or bachelor’s degree to be considered for this type of position.

Writing. “There are many companies that are trying to cut costs by eliminating in-house editorial teams and outsourcing content work to skilled writers who work from their homes absorbing overhead costs.” I can personally attest to this, having shared writing a daily e-newsletter with another freelance writer for several years for one association. That e-newsletter used to be written by an in-house staffer. You will need strong writing skills and samples of published articles for this type of job.

Medical. “Many health care careers formerly managed in hospitals are now being performed by home based professionals in nursing, medical transcription, medical billing and coding roles.” You will need special training to perform these tasks. Many companies offer such training online, but be sure the training you are getting will be recognized by the businesses with which you want to work.

Sales. “The value of sales and marketing is spread across all industries therefore the availability of jobs is very high. With a wide range of employment opportunities, sales is a career that provides entry level to professional level advancement.” Be aware that many sales jobs are commission-only, and that some require training and/or product purchases before beginning as a salesperson.

Bilingual. “Language jobs are widely available to people all over the world who enjoy speaking with others via telephone or web enabled conferences and meetings.” You might need to prove your competence in another language by receiving certification or passing a language proficiency test.

Until next time,


Work-From-Home Job Spotlight: Animal Breeder

Every Thursday, I highlight a work-from-home job or business.

Position: Animal breeder

Education: Formal education is not necessary but a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in animal husbandry or agriculture might prove useful. If working for a laboratory, specific training courses might be required. Knowledge of basic veterinary services might be helpful.

Skills: The ability to work well with the animal and breed of choice. The room to house, feed and exercise the animals.

Job outlook: Depends on the animal and breed. Check with state or national associations of the animal and breed for more details.

Possible employers: Local breeders, laboratories and farms.

Preparation: You will need to be able to select and breed animals according to their genealogy, characteristics and offspring. You may need a knowledge of artificial insemination techniques and equipment use. You will have to keep records on heats, birth intervals or pedigree.

Get your foot in the door: Consider working briefly for another breeder similar to what you will be raising. Join state or national breed associations, which can provide training and other vital information for successfully breeding. Start small and build your breeding business slowly so that you can learn on the job.

Until next time,


Overcoming Writer’s Block

Whether you are a novelist, a writer or just need to get that email sent, we all encounter writer’s block sometimes. “How to Beat Writer’s Block Online” from Mashable gives several tips on overcoming this work-slowing problem.

Find inspiration. Try switching radio stations, surf YouTube for funny videos, walk away from your computer for a few minutes, go outside for a walk around the block or visit Flickr for a change of scenery.

Re-focus. Correct what you have already written. Type anything, even a poem or lyrics, just to get the words flowing.

Try language games. Rhyming dictionaries, word-association sites, and visual thersauses can help unlock your writer’s block.

Brainstorm free-form. Jot down thoughts, even random ones, relating to your topic.

Go social. Use your social network to generate ideas of where to go in your writing.

Hopefully, these will unstick you when you’ve got a case of writer’s block.

Until next time,


Work-From-Home Job Spotlight: Adult Education Instructor

Each Thursday, I highlight a work-from-home job or business.

Position: Adult education instructor

Education: Most program require teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. For public school teaching, licenses through the state could be required.

Skills: The ability to communicate to adults and out-of-school youths in reading, writing, speaking English, and math to equip the students to solve problems, improve job opportunities and further their education.

Job outlook: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says job opportunities should be favorable, particularly for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. “Employment of adult literacy and remedial education teachers is expected to grow by 15 percent through 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations,” according to the BLS. Check out the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook for more details.

Possible employers: Universities, community colleges, municipalities adult education programs, churches and nonprofit organizations. You could even advertise your private tutoring services online and through some of these organizations.

Preparation: Make sure your license, if applicable, is up-to-date. Take some classes to brush up on the latest teaching techniques if you haven’t taught in a few years. Practice your class material on friends and family to help iron out any kinks in your presentations.
Get your foot in the door: Consider offering to teach one class section for free. Audit a few classes with the group with which you want to teach.

Until next time,


Password Protection

If you’re like me, thinking up inventive–and potentially hack-resistant–passwords for all your online accounts and websites can be taxing and time-consuming. ReadWrite Enterprises has a solution, outlined in “Why Using 2 or 3 Simple Words May Be the Best Password Protection of All.”

Hackers access accounts by using a variety of methods, such as guessing (which is why birthdays, anniversaries, etc. do not make good passwords), scams, trial-and-error (entering in various passwords), dictionary approach (using all words in the dictionary) and listing common words.

While most IT professionals advocate complex words and symbols as passwords, most of us can’t remember those and end up writing down our passwords, which defeats the whole purpose of passwords.

The author recommends stringing together three common words, such as “this is fun,” as your password. Also having your provider put in place delays when entering wrong passwords, such as only being able to enter a password every five seconds and 10 wrong passwords locks you out for an hour, can further strengthen your password protections.

So toss out the old, complex and hard-to-recall passwords and try three simple words together. You might find it easier to remember and more fun to type in to your accounts.

Until next time,


Work-From-Home Job Spotlight: Accountant/Bookkeeper

Each Thursday, I will highlight a work-from-home job or business.

Position: Accountant or bookkeeper
Education: Most accountant or bookkeeping jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Having professional recognition through certification or licensure, especially a CPA (certified public accountant) can translate into more job opportunities.
Skills: Accounting skills encompass bookkeeping, payroll, tax filings, tax returns, tax advice, generating financial statements, and accounting for profit and loss. You can specialize in audit, budget analysis, financial, management or tax accounting.
Job outlook: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says job opportunities for accountants and bookkeepers should be favorable. “Must faster than average employment growth [from 2008 to 2018] will result from an increase in the number of businesses, changing financial laws and regulations, and greater scrutiny of company finances,” according to the BLS. Check out the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook for more details.
Possible employers: Small businesses and local companies probably offer freelance accountants the best opportunities for at-home employment. Try cold calling or searches through online job boards, such as Craig’s List, for specific companies looking for accountants or bookkeepers.
Preparation: Make sure your certifications and/or licenses are up-to-date. Brush up your resume, highlighting your accounting or bookkeeping skills. Gather references from previous or current employers in this field.
Get your foot in the door: Consider offering to work for free on a small project or a few hours of accounting or bookkeeping. Even if the company doesn’t end up hiring you, you might be able to garner a current reference. Also ask if the company knows of any other business that might need a part-time accountant or bookkeeper.

Until next time,


9 Customer Service Trends for 2011

Recently, research firm Mintel revealed its consumer trends for 2011. The following is an excerpt from the press release detailing those trends.

While consumers are still reeling from the aftershock created by the global economic crisis, lessons have been learnt, behaviours changed and consumer adaptability has created a new way of life. With that in mind, Mintel predicts nine key consumer trends for the year ahead, examining how long term behaviour has been implicated. In 2011, consumers are living for the long term with attitudes inspired by a changed value set.

1. Prepare for the worst. With a heightened sense of what economic collapse looks like thanks to the global recession, a renewed emphasis on prevention will drive consumers to think defensively.

2. Retail rebirth. With online experiences developing rapidly, for bricks and mortar retailers, discounting is a no-win battle against the internet.
3. Where its app. With smartphones becoming the dominant mobile force, QR codes and app technology will pique interest, provide portals into unique experiences and improve our quality of life.

4. No degree, no problem. Economic uncertainty has changed the workplace and the meaning of job security for the foreseeable future.

5. On her own terms. Women are earning and learning more than men, creating new gender roles in business and consumerism.
6. Retired for hire. People are working beyond retirement – either due to financial need, or because they have grown attached to a lifestyle of leisure and pleasure.
7. The big issue. Our attitude toward weight is polarising, pitting the rise of the super-healthy against the eternal appeal of indulgence.

8. Garden state. Modern city dwellers have a growing love of gardening and a need for nature and with fresh, organic produce still economically out of reach for many, consumers are finding their own ways to bring healthy home.
9. Who needs humans? As we move into an ever more digital era, automated technology has machines replacing people – for better or worse.

Food for thought as we look at how our work-from-home businesses will fare this year.

Until next time,


Stay-at-home Moms Denied Credit?

The Federal Reserve is proposing a rule to clarify the new Credit Card Act that could have unintended consequences for stay-at-home moms who attempt to get credit at retail locations. The Weekly Standard wrote that the act appears to require retailers to consider an applicant’s independent income, rather than household income, meaning that those without income could find themselves denied credit.

The Standard quoted a Wall Street Journal article that elaborated on the situation: ” Under the proposed rule, if a customer with no income requested credit on the spot, he or she wouldn’t qualify for it unless a higher-earning spouse applied jointly.

“The proposed clarification would have a chilling effect on the willingness of customers to apply for store credit because of the embarrassment of being denied credit at the point-of-sale, and the possibility of being told by a store clerk in front of other customers that she must have her husband co-sign for the account.”

As a stay-at-home mom who works from home but that doesn’t receive a regular paycheck–and one who couldn’t “prove” that I have independent income apart from my husband–this is rather chilling to read. Such changes as this would yank us back into the 1950s and 1960s–and earlier–where women could not conduct financial matters without their husband’s permission.

Hopefully, this rule will not become permanent.

Until next time,